Lwandle eviction unravelled

By Drum Digital
21 July 2014

Many were arrested for asking questions about what was happening and trying to retrieve their possessions.

A woman who was four months pregnant was kicked by a police officer carrying out the eviction and she miscarried her baby later that day.

A 21-year-old man committed suicide after he arrived at the area to find his home demolished and his possessions gone, she claimed.

These are some incidents reported to have happened  following the eviction of illegal shack dwellers in Lwandle, Cape Town, last month.

"These are just some I had occasion to consult with. I am trying to assist you in connecting with the real and the authentic," said Sheena St Clair Jonker, founder of the Access to Justice Association of Southern Africa (AJASA).

She was testifying at an inquiry investigating the eviction of people from SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) land.

Jonker said she was called by Ses'Khona People's Rights Movement leader Loyiso Nkohla to consult residents and provide legal services.

Her written and oral evidence was to supplement that of Ses'Khona.

She showed  a newspaper photo of community leader Xoliswa Masakala, who was seen naked and held at the throat by a policeman.

Jonker said Masakala was "brutalised", arrested and charged with public violence.

Many others were arrested on the same charges for asking questions about what was happening and trying to retrieve their possessions.

"A group of about 10 were arrested on the day, incarcerated at police holding cells for a few days and then all moved to Pollsmoor Prison," she said.

She also claimed she had evidence that live ammunition was used.

"[The eviction] amounted to a shooting of the wounded, a further injury to the already injured and further impoverishment of the already impoverished. It's not okay."

Inquiry member Butch Steyn said it was not in dispute that there had been some form of abuse but was concerned that Jonker had not verified much of the information coming from residents.

"It leaves me a little bit uncomfortable. Do you have affidavits to back this presentation? If you do, we need copies," Steyn asked.

Jonker said gathering information had taken a while and she did not have affidavits. She said she had comprehensive consultation notes that could be converted to affidavits.

Inquiry member Annelize van Wyk asked whether she had evidence regarding her claim of live ammunition and whether she had reported the alleged police misconduct to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

Jonker replied that a resident had retrieved a live round. She committed to laying complaints with Ipid.

Van Wyk asked that this be handed to the inquiry as soon as possible.

-SAPA

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